LIVINGSTON, NJ - Livingston co-captain and senior Caroline Cole sat in tears on the Lancer bench just minutes away from tip-off. Cole and fellow senior co-captain Alayna Liska were both emotional after just being praised alongside senior manager Rachel Gisser, by head coach Patty Kaes and their teammates. The Lancers (9-9) honored their departing graduates on “Senior Night” by defeating the Montclair Kimberley Cougars (10-9) 45-31 to return to .500
“It feels really nice,” Cole said after the game. “It’s great to get a little revenge on them since we lost to [57-22] the first time around.”
Cole, who finished with eight points, helped lead an emotionally energized Livingston team, sinking two quick shots to jump out to an early 8-5 lead. The Cougars answered right back going on a 9-3 run behind center Leah Murphy and guard Izzy Mendez. Murphy and Mendez combined for 11 of the Cougars’ 14 total points in the quarter.
Behind center Catherine Callaghan’s six points, the Lancers’ regained control and took a 22-20 lead heading into halftime. Callaghan, who finished with a team-high 16 points and six rebounds, left Montclair Kimberley head coach Jessica Bishop completely flustered. At several times throughout the game, Bishop exploded on her players screaming phrases such as: “Where is [Callaghan]?!” “Do not let her get the ball!” and “Put a body on her!”
No amount of shouting could derail the junior star, who continued to torch the Cougars’ defense scoring eight more points in the third quarter to spark a second half surge and increase the Lancers’ lead to ten.
Following Livingston’s decisive victory, Callaghan took no praise and rather credited her teammates’ play for her impressive performance.
“It feels good, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Callaghan said. “We’re just really coming together as a team and playing well.”
The Lancers certainly came together in the second half, outscoring the Cougars 23-11 in the final 16 minutes of play. Guards’ Katie Horiuchi, Nicole LaRusso, and forward Sarosha Parsons helped contribute to the Lancers’ success, accounting for Livingston’s final six points in the fourth quarter, and ending any hope of a late comeback attempt from Montclair Kimberley.
The short-handed Cougars’ squad, who were without four of their starters due to severe illness, certainly appeared out-manned down the stretch, allowing the Lancers to command a sizeable lead in the final minutes and never being able to draw within single digits.
Kaes, who acknowledged the fact that the different Cougar personnel could have been a factor, believes the main reason behind her team’s success was emotional atmosphere regarding “Senior Night.”
“There was an emotional aspect,” Kaes said. “And it led to these girls’ playing their butts’ off.”
Livingston will hope to ride this recent momentum and get above .500 with a win over St. Elizabeth Monday. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.